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Authors: Tiffanie DeBartolo

God-Shaped Hole

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God-Shaped Hole
Tiffanie DeBartolo
Sourcebooks, Inc. (2013)

Copyright © 2002 by Tiffanie DeBartolo

Cover and internal design © 2002 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Published by Sourcebooks, Inc.

P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410

(630) 961-3900

FAX: (630) 961-2168

www.sourcebooks.com

“Preaching The End Of The World”

By Chris Cornell

© 1999 Disappearing One Music (ASCAP)

All rights reserved. Used by permission.

“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” By James Steinman

© 1977-Edward B. Marks Music Company

Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

DeBartolo, Tiffanie.

God-shaped hole / by Tiffanie DeBartolo.

p. cm.

1. Paternal deprivation—Fiction. 2. Fatherless families—Fiction. 3. Personals—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3604.E46 G63 2002

813’.6—dc21

2001054268

For Jeff

Because your truth was a soul-truth.

So to thank you
and to never forget that you happened.

Acknowledgments, sappy drivel, and an email address:

I am supremely grateful to the following people:

Two of the classiest men I know—my agent, Albert Zuckerman, and my editor, Hillel Black, for opening their hearts to Jacob, Trixie, and to me. I am forever in their debt.

Ruth Danon, April Krassner, Catherine Barnett, and everyone at the NYU summer intensive writing workshop, for giving so much of themselves. And to Tim O’Brien for his priceless advice and encouragement.

Chris Cornell, for combining fifteen little words in such a way as to instigate ninety thousand other ones.

Richard Weiner, Bob Shook, Fay Greenfield.

Ben Heldfond, Eddy Midyett, Troy Reinhart, and Corrine Clement, as well as all my dear friends and relatives who influence and nurture me. You know who you are.

My grade school and high school English teachers, especially Miss Canavan, Mr. Antognoli, and Mrs. Shattuck.

Above and beyond: to four of the five most important people in my life: my parents, Candy and Eddie DeBartolo, and my sisters, Lisa and Nikki, for not only accepting but encouraging my unusual imagination, and for their unconditional love and support.

Lastly, to Scott. The coolest, most noble man I know. I thank him for
everything
.

If you’d like to communicate with me, send an email to: [email protected]. I’ll answer the nice ones. I might even answer the psychotic ones. But if you write to tell me how much you hated the book, don’t think you’re going to get a response.

PRELUDE

When I was twelve, a fortune-teller told me that my one true love would die young and leave me all alone.

Everyone said she was a fraud, that she was just making it up.

I’d really like to know why the hell a person would make up a thing like that.

I remember the whole horrendous scene, more or less, like it was yesterday. A splashy dinner party in Hollywood the week of my seventh-grade Christmas vacation. My dad was a piss-faced entertainment lawyer—he ran one of the biggest firms in town—and he was always dragging us to one god-awful party after another, purely for show of course, to appear as if we were the quintessential family, which was a big crock of vomit. We were sitting at a large round table overpopulated by too many wine glasses and an empty bread basket. Me, my parents, my brothers Chip and Cole; along with a made-for-TV movie star; his wife, who was a famous TV star herself; and another guy who I was told was a pitcher for the Dodgers. He’s the one who ate all the bread.

Apparently the people throwing the party thought it would be fun to have a fortune-teller working the room, as a sort of bohemian novelty, I imagine. I watched her roving. She had deeply etched lines around her eyes, though everything else about her seemed young. Her hair looked like cotton candy and was the same shade as her lipstick. I tried to figure out how old she was but it was impossible to tell. She seemed both ancient and ageless. Maybe a vampire, I thought. She was dressed like a gypsy, with a heavy shawl, lots of lace, and huge hoop earrings. They were gold and they touched her shoulders. I recall thinking that I could probably get my fist through one of them if she’d let me try, but I didn’t mention it when she came over because something about her scared the shit out of me.

As soon as she hit our table she made a beeline to where I was sitting, as if no one else were there. She smelled like cigarettes. Even at that age I had a delicate nose. Smells formed the basis of my first and most critical impressions, and the nicotine compounded my already negative hunch about her.

“My name is Madra,” she said. “What’s yours?”

“Beatrice,” I said. But what I thought was, Hey, if you’re so psychic you’d already know my name. I didn’t say that though. I was shy back then.

“And how old are you, twelve?” she said.

Wow. Okay. Maybe she was clairvoyant after all. Because I didn’t look twelve. Especially with my hair the way it was. I had long, thick black hair, and instead of trying to deal with it, my mother used to pull it up really tight into a ponytail on top of my head. I looked like I’d had a facelift. Couple that with my skin, which has always been the color of a bleak winter, and my rawboned little chicken legs, it’s a wonder I passed for double digits at all.

“That’s right, I’m twelve,” I told Madra.

“But you have a very old soul, my dear. You are almost at the end of your cycle. You have lived many lives and are reaching nirvana.”

I sat there, hypnotized. She might as well have been speaking Swahili, that’s how little sense she made to me. She took my hand, turned my palm face up, and studied it.

“You are an artist,” she said. “You will have a long life. And a great love.”

My brother, Chip, who’s five years older than I am, said, “What a load of crap.” Madra acted like she didn’t hear him; she just kept going.

“You will also know much sadness, but you are strong.”

She frowned, and I thought I detected a tear in her eye when she broke the last bit of news. “You will lose your soulmate to tragedy. Not enough time, not enough time.” She shook her head, lurid. “Bless you, Beatrice.”

Madra put my hand down. She walked to the next table where Warren Beatty was sitting. She sat down on his lap, examined his right ear, and told him he was going to have lots of children. He laughed and said she had the wrong Warren Beatty.

Back at our table, my family was reeling from my predicted future. They had petty lives and thus found my fated misfortune hilarious. I was greatly distressed. It was 1984. That year, my true love was John Taylor from Duran Duran. He played the bass and wore eyeliner. I was sure he’d be dead by morning.

He survived.

ONE

If your intentions are pure

I’m seeking a friend

for the end

of the world

That’s all the ad said. That, plus a phone number.

It was the biggest one under the section titled MEN SEEKING WOMEN in the
LA Weekly
. I didn’t usually even read the
Weekly
. I never liked going out all that much. Reading it only reminded me that I lived in L.A., and no one with any sense would want to be reminded of that. With its constant contradiction of sunshine and violence, going out in Los Angeles was like offering yourself up as a sacrifice to the god of hellfire. It just brought me down.

But for some reason that day, I felt an urge. Was it claustrophobia of my apartment, or of the couple-hundred mile radius I helped populate? I had my suspicions. Either way, it all screamed
Get me out of here!

I picked up the
Weekly
right in front of the natural food market two blocks from my apartment. It was only six o’clock and I didn’t feel like spending the entire evening alone, nor did I feel like succumbing to a knock on the door from Greg, my neighbor-slash-ex-boyfriend, who deep down I loathed to all hell but who also, conveniently, lived right down the hall. When he was bored he came looking for sex, and I wasn’t in the mood to endure the wrestling match of my conscience versus my libido. I was feeling weak and wanted to see what my other options were.

I was flipping the pages, looking for movie listings, when it caught my eye.

Seeking a friend for the end of the world

I couldn’t have put it better myself. Except to add one question: Where the fuck have you been all my life?

I read the ad over a few more times and then, for some nonsensical reason I’ll probably never be able to explain, I did it. I skipped the movie, went up to my apartment, and called the number. Sometimes the most consequential moments in my life originate from a state of completely witless human auto-pilot.

After four rings an answering machine picked up and a computer-generated voice asked me to leave my name and number. It caught me off-guard. I didn’t know what to say and didn’t want to sound asinine. I hung up.

Ten minutes later, after jotting down exactly what I would tell him to make myself sound enchanting, I called back and left a floundering message that wasn’t even close to what was written on the Post-It note I held in my hand.

“Uh, hi. My name’s Beatrice. I’m twenty-seven years old and, well, I don’t know what else to say. I saw your ad in the
Weekly
. I was intrigued. Call me if you want. I mean, I don’t know, I’ve never done anything like this before but, anyway…here’s my number.”

Like I told the machine, I’d never called a personal ad before, and hadn’t ever planned on calling one. As a matter of fact, I made fun of people who had to advertise for dates, and I usually prefer my own company to any old idiot, unless I’m really horny. But I wasn’t too proud to admit that in a city where women choose men by the kind of car they drive, and men choose women by the size of their breasts, I’d become moderately despondent.

I’m only a B cup.

Besides, the ad seemed different, inspiring in a way. I asked myself if any of my former lovers would have ever thought of something that provocative to write in a personal ad, and because the answer to my question was a resounding no, I figured it was worth a shot.

I didn’t hear from anyone for almost two weeks, and I had all but forgotten about it until I answered the phone and heard his voice.

He said, “Trixie?”

I paused. “Do you mean…Beatrice?”

Chuckling a little, he said, “Isn’t Trixie short for Beatrice?”

If it was, I said, I’d sure as hell never been called it.

I knew it was the guy from the ad as soon as he spoke. Whoever he was, that is. The tone of his voice was smooth and rich, like freshly ground coffee. And he spoke softly, deliberately, as if every word he uttered were a self-portrait.

He told me his name was Jacob Grace, and he apologized for not calling me back sooner, although he gave no explanation as to why it took him so long. He said he was twenty-nine, that he was a writer—currently working part-time at the
Weekly
—and that he’d very much like to meet me as soon as possible. He said all this as if he were in pain, as if I were a lost love he never got over. Or maybe that was the dreamer in me. I try to find meaning anywhere I can. It’s the only way I know how to validate my existence.

Jacob and I arranged to meet for lunch the next day at Fred’s on Vermont. It wasn’t too far from where he worked, he explained. He ate there a couple times a week.

“They have corn dogs and pop-tarts on the menu,” he said boyishly.

I asked him what he looked like, pretending I needed to know in case it was crowded. I really just wanted to make sure he wasn’t some kind of Quasimodo.

“What do you look like,” he said back to me, more a statement than a question.

“I have long black hair, and I’ll wear a topaz stone around my neck.”

“You were born in November,” he said. “So was I.”

“How do you know that?”

“Topaz is the birth stone for November. I have brown hair. See you tomorrow.”

BOOK: God-Shaped Hole
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